skip to main content
Home  /  Why Caltech  /  Our Commitment to Diversity  /  Diversity in STEM

Diversity in STEM

Why We Need Diversity in STEM

Explore the importance of equity in Caltech's STEM education and how diversity helps spark creative solutions and create ethical technologies.

Why We Need Diversity in STEM—and at Caltech

Scientific findings and technological advances rely on numbers, data, and results--but the heart of STEM lies in the people conducting the research. A diverse group of scientists can form better hypotheses, design equitable experiments, and discover biases in data interpretation.

Because of this, diversity is not just a buzzword—it's the driving force behind Caltech's STEM innovations that impact the world.

The Importance of Diversity in Research

At Caltech, we know that research teams composed of individuals from different cultures and experiences can provide new insights. Their unique perspectives can help teams question old ways of thinking and consider new angles, leading to more creative breakthroughs.

We want Caltech to be a place for the brightest students to feel welcome. So, we strive to foster an inclusive environment where people see themselves represented and empowered, creating a positive loop in which even more diverse minds can pursue STEM fields and make groundbreaking contributions.

Equity in Caltech's STEM Education

Historically, STEM fields have lacked representation from individuals of diverse backgrounds, including women, people of color, first-generation college students, low-income students, DACA/undocumented individuals, and those from rural and small towns. At Caltech, we believe that diversity inspires better science and more inclusive technology. That's why we actively invest in students with different experiences and perspectives.

Among Caltech undergraduates, 34.5% come from underrepresented groups, and 45% identify as female. Additionally, we've seen a 215% increase in Latinx students between 2011 and 2022.

We also spearhead programs that ensure a diverse and equitable educational environment, from the First-Year Success Research Institute to student-led affinity groups. The Center for Inclusion & Diversity also actively supports and empowers students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Furthermore, we recognize the importance of a diverse faculty in creating an atmosphere where students feel they belong. While we still have progress to make, we are proud that 22% of our faculty identify as non-white and 25.4% as female.

Opening Doors for the Next Generation of STEM Students

Caltech's commitment to promoting diversity extends beyond our campus. Our faculty and students actively engage in programs and initiatives designed to foster college and career readiness in STEM among middle and high school students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds.

Recent efforts include:

  • Junior Watson series: Accomplished high school students visit Caltech to explore a research lab connected to a Watson Lecture, meet current students, hear from our admissions counselors, and attend the lecture.
  • Hybrid Summer Research Connection: This six-week program assists high school students, many of whom will be the first generation in their families to attend college and have limited access to STEM training and equipment. It provides them with the opportunity to work alongside Caltech research groups, gaining invaluable hands-on experience.
  • Caltech Y's Rise: In 2023, 170 Caltech undergraduate and graduate students volunteered as tutors for local eighth- to 12th-grade students, helping them gain proficiency in STEM subjects and nurturing their interest in these fields.

With programs like these, we hope to increase access to STEM for historically underrepresented groups at Caltech and other STEM programs across the country.

Find an Inclusive Environment to Earn a STEM Degree at Caltech

Embark on your STEM journey in a community that champions diversity at the California Institute of Technology. Benefit from our impressive 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio, abundant research opportunities, and support for all students, ensuring you have the resources to make groundbreaking discoveries and thrive in your academic pursuits.